Published August 16 2011
Force announce rosterFARGO – No one has played a single minute this season, yet Jesse Davis has a strong feeling that the future of the Fargo Force junior hockey team is strong.
That’s why it took the entire coaching staff nearly more than a day to figure out which players could make an impact now. A decision was finalized Monday when the Force released its roster heading into pre-season camp. The Force have 28 players on the roster and that number has to be cut to 23 before the season starts in October.
“It was hard to let guys go,” said Davis, an assistant who is heading into his second season with the team. “But it was a good problem to have and at the same time, we have to look out for the best interest of our hockey club and for the best interest of that hockey player.”
The Force are returning 10 players from last year’s team, including Brian Cooper, Tanner Lane and Zane Gothberg. But the team used two drafts and two tryout camps to determine which new faces could join the team for the upcoming season.
Some of those players include Williston’s Jordan Nelson, the 2010 North Dakota Mr. Hockey Award winner. Another one is forward Gabe Guertler, who just helped the United States win first place at the Five Nations Tournament, which is considered to be one of the top U-17 hockey tournaments in the world.
Choosing the right players, of course, was a priority. So were getting players enrolled in high school. Because the Force have players between 16-20 years old, there are quite a few of them that come to the team as high school students.
Davis said that’s why the coaching staff made sure they knew what high school-aged players they were going to take. So that way they could be enrolled at Fargo South, which starts Aug. 25.
“It gives (the high school-aged players) time to get back home and grab their things,” Davis said. “We have them report a couple days beforehand and get acquainted with their billet families and get acquainted with getting to school because some of them may have cars.”
Getting a base roster to work with brings an end to what has become an entertaining and at times, all too familiar summer for the Force.
The Force had to hire their fourth head coach in as many years when Jason Herter stepped down to become an assistant at Minnesota-Duluth. The team then hired former North Dakota assistant and Chicago Blackhawks all-star John Marks to replace Herter.
During that time, the team dealt with a mini-saga with Garrett Haar. Haar was drafted by the Washington Capitals and was told by the team to attend college for the upcoming season. After saying he would stay in Fargo, a week later he used Twitter to say that he was going to play next season at Western Michigan University.
But now that the activity of summer is over, it gives the Force a chance to focus on hockey. The Force will look for a fourth straight playoff appearance and a crack at making the Clark Cup Finals for the third time in four years.
“It’s been kind of exciting to see how it all came together,” Davis said. “It will be kind of fun to see how it will all unfold…and now we have our hockey team, so to speak.”
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